Gianluigi Buffon has assured that he still feels “important” for Juventus, despite his lack of game time this season. Buffon was again back-up to Wojciech Szczesny on Saturday, when Juve’s seven-game winning streak came to an end during a 1-1 draw at Lecce. The Bianconeri are still top of Serie A, however, as Inter followed up with a 2-2 draw against Parma at San Siro the same day. “You might draw from time to time, but I think it’s also fine like this,” the veteran goalkeeper told Tiki Taka. “The controversy arrives as soon as the best teams don’t win, but there’s also the other team and there are three different outcomes in football.” The 41-year-old spent last season at Paris Saint-Germain, but he stands by his decision to return to Turin. “I went to Paris because I couldn’t turn down the kind of sporting and economical offer they gave me at PSG. “When you are 40 years old and a club this big comes in for you, it’s also flattering. I wanted to gain a new experience and step out of my comfort zone. “One night when I was on my own I decided to return to Juve, asking myself: ‘At 41 years old, what am I doing here alone in Paris when my family is in Italy?’ “I forced PSG’s hand and when Juve made me their offer, that seemed the right choice so I accepted it immediately. Reports have suggested that Buffon returned to finish his coaching badges and prepare himself for life after playing, but he denied he was looking further than the ongoing trophy hunt. “Right now I’m in a psychological and physical condition where I still feel like an important player. “I haven’t yet examined my own future and I also have the serenity to psychoanalyse and evaluate my own performances. “When I realise I can’t play like I want, I will sit down with the club and tell them it’s over.” Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/
Even as the upcoming Indian Grand Prix looked like it was racing towards a perfect start, the country’s inaugural Formula 1 race has hit a roadblock. Just 45 days before the race, the organisers and the government are locked in a tussle over custom duties. The customs department has been insisting that Jaypee Sports International (JPSI) — the promoter of the Indian GP racetrack — pay duty upfront on all equipment being brought into the country for the race. It is estimated that the total duty could come to Rs 600 crore or more. JPSI, on its part, has been pushing for the practice that is followed in other countries where a custom bonded area is declared for the track. This would allow F1 cargo to be immediately taken to the track, assembled and then flown out after the race, avoiding any sort of custom duty. The government, however, has been bizarrely classifying F1 as entertainment and not sport, which means no such exemption to it. As a result JPSI might be forced to pay the entire duty to allow the equipment to come into the country. After a deduction of 2 per cent, the remaining amount would be returned by the customs department.
All-rounder Dan Christian was left out, while opener Ed Cowan was expectedly handed a Test debut in the final XI announced on Saturday by Australian skipper Michael Clarke for the opening cricket Test against India, starting on Monday.Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc also failed to find a place in the final XI, which will have pacer Ben Hilfenhaus who is set to play his first Test since last year’s Ashes.A fit-again Shaun Marsh, who had been battling a back problem, was named at number three after his 99-run knock in a Twenty20 Big Bash knock earlier this week.The out-of-form duo of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have also retained their positions from the 13-member squad that was announced by the selectors.”I’m confident we’ve got the best XI to win this Test match in these conditions,” Clarke said.”I can use Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting and myself to bowl a few overs. David Warner can bowl a few legspinners. I feel we’ve got the right XI to give ourselves a chance of winning this Test match,” he added, explaining the decision to go with a four-pronged attack.”DC (Christian) offers a lot with both bat and ball but unfortunately for him right now we can’t fit him into the XI,” Clarke said.Clarke said Hilfenhaus’ ability to bowl long spells was a major factor in the decision to pick him for the eagerly-anticipated match.”I think it plays a part. His control, he’s a very good new ball bowler. He can bowl long spells. He’s had success against India as well. There’s a few reasons we decided to go with Hilfy,” Clarke said.advertisementSpeaking on Marsh’ fitness, Clarke said the prolific batsman’s back is finally holding up.”His back is fine. He’s taken it easy yesterday and today to make sure he’s fully recovered and ready to go come Boxing Day. I’d imagine you’ll see Shaun out here tomorrow facing some bowlers or at least having some throwdowns. He’s 100 per cent ready to go,” he said.Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus.
Seasoned defender Subhadra Pradhan will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility during the hockey Olympic qualifier. As the most capped player in the team with 130 international matches, Subhadra has her task cut out at the backline.”There will be a lot of responsibility on me in the defence. I had a good combination with the senior players who are not there in the team anymore. The junior girls have also got good experience and my job will be to guide them.”I have put in some years in international hockey now and I don’t think there will be any pressure,” Subhadra said.South Africa are the top-ranked team in the qualifier at 12th while India are a rung below at 13th. Canada, Italy, Poland and Ukraine are the other teams.The veteran player said that although they enjoy the home advantage, they will have to be consistent with their game.”We play good hockey against stronger teams, but against weaker opponents we tend to get complacent and the standard of our game goes down. We cannot afford to do that. We have to ensure that we maintain the same level right from the first match.” Subhadra also pointed to the team’s fragility in panic situations but felt a few sessions with SAI psychologist has helped them spruce up its mental strength.”The first 10 minutes are very crucial. We tend to panic in the initial stages of the game. The morale of the team gets affected if we concede early goals, or if the opponent plays an attacking game and raids our defence. We have to be mentally strong to withstand the pressure and we are working on that aspect with our psychologist.” The 25-year-old said converting penalty corners and goal-scoring opportunities are the other things the team is working on. “We have good drag flickers in Jaspreet Kaur and Joydeep Kaur. The reason we missed out on penalty corners during the warm up series against Azerbaijan was because we were working on variations for the qualifier. The forward line needs to make the most of the scoring opportunities as well.” The Jharkhand girl added that speed and stamina are the strengths of the side.”We need to be in control of the ball while passing and avoid panicking.” Subhadra said the team got good exposure playing against the local under-16 boys team.”They have speed, and can be rough to play with. But we were able to control them in speed,” she smiled.advertisement
Indian Cricketer Irfan PathanIndian speedster Irfan Pathan spoke to Editor Prabhu Chawla about his pace and performance.Q. You have taken 102 ODI wickets in 59 matches. What is special about you?A. It’s all about hard work. There’s high competition amid pressure from the media and public to perform. It’s very,Indian Cricketer Irfan PathanIndian speedster Irfan Pathan spoke to Editor Prabhu Chawla about his pace and performance.Q. You have taken 102 ODI wickets in 59 matches. What is special about you?A. It’s all about hard work. There’s high competition amid pressure from the media and public to perform. It’s very important to be mentally strong to survive.Q. Do you face problems being from a small town?A. No. It’s all about fate. It doesn’t matter whether you are from a small town or from a big one.Q. When did you start playing cricket?A. My brother and I used to play with a tennis ball. Then our uncle got us registered at the Baroda Sports Club.Q. Has Zaheer Khan helped you in your bowling?A. Yes, he helped me a lot during the Ranji Trophy.Q. What about your studies?A. I am yet to appear for my Class XII examinations.Q. Do you have a problem with red balls?A. I’m comfortable with both balls. I’ve taken 88 wickets with the red ball in Tests.Q. You still bowl at 125-130 kmph. Is that a strategy or your limit?A. I’m bowling at 135-138 kmph now. It’s more important to take wickets and to perform.Q. How have you improved your bowling?A. When I came into the team I was bowling at 128-130 kmph. I focus on variation and movement. I don’t bowl bouncers, I never threaten a batsman. I’m not Shoaib Akhtar or Brett Lee.advertisementQ. Are you working towards becoming an all-rounder?A. I’m trying to improve my bowling, not my batting. I’m a bowler first.Q. Which is better-ODIs or Tests?A. It’s important to perform in Tests to become a good cricketer.Q. Who is the best bowler according to you?A. Wasim Akram.Q. And the best batsman?A. Sachin, and my favourite is V.V.S. Laxman.Q. The best captain?A. Rahul Dravid is really good. Steve Waugh was a very good decision-maker.
The ugly face of match fixing has once again surfaced and once again Indians and Pakistanis players seem to be at the centre of the fresh controversy. It is alleged that the 2011 World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan in March was “fixed”.To add spice to the unending fixing saga, it is alleged that smalltime Bollywood actor Nupur Mehta has been used to lure players on the English county scene into underperforming. Nupur Mehta has, however, denied any involvement in the fixing controversy and has even stated that she would take legal action against the British daily Sunday Times that used her picture in the article.”Photo is mine but the allegations are baseless. My picture has been used for publicity stunt. I have nothing to do with match fixing and I haven’t in relationship with any cricketers too,” Nupur told Headlines Today.”I am disappointed that London’s Sunday Times is giving me a bad name. I am taking action against them for maligning my image and giving me mental trauma. Even if it is for representative purpose only, they have not taken my permission,” she added.The Sunday Times had published an article titled “English cricket in bung scandal”, in which the daily had claimed that bookmakers used a Bollywood actress to seduce Pakistani players for fixing.The Sunday Times also published a photograph of the actress with blur face.The English daily also claimed that ICC knew the details of the actress.Nupur had acted with Sunny Deol in Jo Bole So Nihal.advertisement
The IPL 2012 will feature 76 games of short format cricket across 12 venues in India starting April 4.Actors Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan performed during the opening ceremony of the 5th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) in Chennai on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.Stars galore at IPL Opening Nite | See picsTo see complete coverage on IPL 5, click hereFor IPL 5 Schedule, click here U.S. singer Katy Perry also performed at the star-studded event. Actor Amitabh Bachchan recited a poem on cricket during the opening ceremony. The poem was written especially for the IPL opening ceremony by lyricist Prasoon Joshi.Percussionists performed at the IPL opening ceremony. ‘Colonial Cousins’ Hariharan and Leslie Lewis get on with some electrifying performance with the number ‘Krishna Begane Baro.’This season could be make or break for IPL, which has had its share of controversies in the last 12 months. In 2011, the television ratings fell, Kochi Tuskers were expelled after their owners failed to pay the bank guarantee and then Sahara, the owners of Pune Warriors and chief sponsor of the Indian cricket team, threatened to severe its ties with the Indian cricket board in February.IPL’s newly appointed chairman Rajeev Shukla, who took over last year, attributed the dip in last year’s TV ratings to “cricket fatigue”.
The coliseums are packed to the rafters. It doesn’t add up. Cricket fatigue and Team India’s indifferent form notwithstanding, spectators are queuing up to be part of India’s great cricket tamasha. Cannot fathom why though? Indian cricket’s performance levels have been pathetic lately, they have appeared a disjointed rag tag bobtail outfit at best on foreign tours. As the late Tiger Pataudi once told me – tigers at home and chickens abroad. That hasn’t deterred spectators from turning up in droves. Stadia are full and tickets flying off the shelves. The April heat be damned. What is working then?Naa, I guess the quality of cricket is phantasmagoric. On Sunday, I went to the Kotla in the capital to watch the local outfit Daredevils play Rajasthan Royals. It was electric. What had the crowds come to see? Power hitting and obviously their local team doing well. Viru (Virender Sehwag) and Morne Morkel obliged, choking the Royals, practically getting out jail, winning by one run. Is the age of the franchise finally upon us? For spectators are not turning up for Delhi alone. From Jaipur to Kolkata, from the Wankhede in Mumbai to Mohali in Punjab to the new stadium in Pune, all the stadia are chock-a-block. Has sub-tribal loyalty become the the new mantra?Cricket became a glue, something that bound the diaspora across the globe. Harassed Indians suddenly found the cricket team as the instrumentality to wear their jingoism on the sleeve and even shout out their anger and vent their spleen in an alien land. Cricket gave these Indians in far off lands a voice. They too could wave the tricolour and after being vanquished for years and in many parts being subjected to barbs like ‘coolies’. This was quite a turnaround. Cricket was the new vehicle for the youth in Australia, in the UK, in the West Indies to sally forth as a spanking new force – calling themselves Swamy Army – they were well served by an energetic Indian side under Saurav Ganguly and a brand bigger than anything in world cricket – Sachin Tendulkar. As India began to do well at different international pit stops, the upsurge in cricket nationalism began to peak.advertisementBut I am deviating from the new phenomenon of sub-tribal loyalty, something that I never thought will take root in India. In a way cricket jingoism and sub-tribal loyalties are intertwined at a subliminal level. One thing feeds off another. Having lived in Calcutta in the early 1980s, I saw this kind of passion when say East Bengal played Mohun Bagan in the local Derby.The same frenzied franchise passion that is generated in the west – say with a Manchester United or Chelsea or Man City in the English Premier League or a New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls or the L A Lakers in the NBA or the New York Rangers in NHL seems to have arrived.Franchise frenzy has probably been visible for the first time in the IPL. Sub-tribal loyalty has taken root, the sheer chutzpah of the game, its stars and personalities seem to be driving this amazing passion. Taking everyone by surprise. To the utter befuddlement and bewilderment of die-hard pundits, IPL has rocked as a spectator sport in season 5. But it has lost its sheen as televised property. Viru, KP or Kevin Pietersen, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid and old man River himself Dada – Saurav Ganguly – despite having a bad hair tourney have ensured that franchises are tracked and supported to the hilt.People drive the game, power hitting equally domineering, but when Morkel or Umesh Yadav suffocate the batter, it makes for an equally great contest. Gladiators are striding on to the cricket fields, the game has been taken to a new level, some of the fielding and bowling has been exemplary. A new brand of Maximus Decimus (Russell Crowe’s name in Gladiator) is upon us, one that doesn’t ask for a quarter nor gives one. And his followers are lapping it up. That is why it is said – we love this game!